Helping to ensure equitable, safe, and culturally relevant education to improve quality of life for First Nations people.

Our Work We advocate for education systems that support growth and lifelong learning for First Nations.

Under existing education systems, many First Nations people suffer long wait lists, discriminatory education practices, low graduation rates, and decreased quality of life. The AFN’s Languages & Learning advocates to ensure that students actualize their inherent and Treaty right to a high quality, linguistically and culturally appropriate education to improve the lives of all First Nations people.

Special needs in First Nations schools are more than double that of provincial K-12 schools non-First Nations schools.

Special needs identification and placement rates in First Nations elementary and secondary schools are 2-3 times the rate of provincial K-12 schools.

First Nations' young adults have a much lower educational attainment than their non-Indigenous counterparts.

Roughly 44% percent of First Nations aged 15 and over do not hold any certificate, diploma or degree, compared to 23% for the Canadian population.

Initiatives & Priorities The policy areas, initiatives and committees driving change in First Nations education.

K-12 - Elementary and Secondary Education

First Nations students have the Inherent and Treaty right to receive an education that is in accordance with their culture, values, traditions, and languages – free from prejudice and discrimination.

The AFN Chiefs Committee on Education (CCOE) and the National Indian Education Council (NIEC) are guided by Resolution 16/2016, Honourable Process to Develop Recommendations to Support First Nations Education Reform, which calls for full and meaningful regional First Nations participation on First Nations education reform, requires any draft federal legislation on First Nations education to be ratified by Chiefs-in-Assembly, and demands that Canada honours and upholds its constitutional obligation for inherent and Treaty rights to education.

First Nations K-12 Education Transformation

Budget 2016

Budget 2016 allocated $2.6 billion over five years for improving primary and secondary education for First Nations children and $129.4 million over two years for supporting early learning and child care. On December 5, 2017, First Nations-in-Assembly resolved to support AFN Resolution 65/2017, New Interim Funding Approach for First Nation Education. This has resulted in the co-development of a Policy Proposal for a new funding approach to First Nations on-reserve education to support students, schools and communities.

New Interim Regional Funding Models

As of April 1, 2019, the series of new interim regional funding models for elementary and secondary education have been implemented. First Nations across the country are at various stages of implementation, experiencing diverse challenges and successes. Many First Nations are engaging in regional technical table meetings to further examine their interim formulas to determine next steps, as the provincial comparability standards are inadequate to achieving substantive equality and improved outcomes

AFN Resolution 35/2019

In July 2020, First Nations-in-Assembly passed AFN Resolution 35/2019, Additional Funding for First Nations Elementary and Secondary Education, to call on the Government of Canada to provide additional investments in 2020 for First Nations elementary and secondary education in order to complete local, Treaty and/or regional education agreements that accurately and adequately reflect the diverse needs and circumstances of First Nations learners, schools, communities and education organizations.

Post-Secondary Education

The AFN advocates for increased funding and stronger First Nations jurisdiction and control over First Nations post-secondary education and adult learning.

First Nations are exercising the right to self-determination and their self-government right to direct and make decisions regarding all aspects of education, including post-secondary education. First Nations have Inherent, constitutional, human, and Treaty rights to education that accords with their respective cultures, values, traditions and languages to support holistic lifelong learning.

First Nations require adequate, predictable, sustainable and equitable funding and resources to support strong student outcomes, develop local capacity, support community-based delivery of post-secondary education programs, and establish and advance First Nations post-secondary institutions through First Nations-led local, regional and Treaty-based post-secondary education models.

First Nations are in the process of negotiating and concluding their own post-secondary education models.

Education Infrastructure

First Nations students have an Inherent and Treaty right to education, including education infrastructure as part of their lifelong learning process. This includes the right to safe, equitable and sustainable education infrastructure that incorporates the unique needs of First Nations students.

The work in First Nations Education Infrastructure is mandated through the AFN Resolution 34/2019, First Nations Education Infrastructure Review. First Nations-in-Assembly resolved to support policy or program changes in regards to First Nations education infrastructure that reflect the true needs of our students. These needs include identifying and addressing the improvement required in capital, repairs, transportation, operations and maintenance and more.

The CCOE, NIEC, and the AFN have been mandated to lead this review that will ensure First Nations students have safe, adequate and sustainable education infrastructure.

Federal Commitments

Budget 2019

As of March 31, 2019, more than $585.7 million of targeted funds has been invested to support education-related infrastructure projects.

Budget 2016

Budget 2016 provided $969.4 million over 5 years for First Nations education infrastructure, in addition to $500 million remaining from Budget 2014.

It's Our Time: First Nations Education Digital Toolkit

The AFN has developed It’s Our Time First Nations Education Toolkit as the basis of a comprehensive strategy to reach out to First Nations students, teachers, schools, communities and the Canadian public at large.

The resource is designed to bring together First Nations and non-First Nations people and foster a spirit of cooperation, understanding, and action.

It's Our Time: The AFN Education Toolkit

For more information please visit It’s Our Time: The AFN Education Toolkit

Technical and Chiefs Committees

First Nations-in-Assembly establish committees by way of resolution to lead work or take action on specific subjects. Once established, committee members are appointed following each region’s formal rules, policies, and procedures for the operations of the regional Assembly of First Nations (AFN) offices. Chiefs’ committees and technical committees provide recommendations to the AFN, the Executive Committee, and the First Nations-in-Assembly.

National Indian Education Council

The mandate of the National Indian Education Council (NIEC) is to use technical expertise and knowledge of grassroots and First Nations education to advise the Chiefs Committee on Education (CCOE) and the AFN on education matters relating to First Nations on a national level.

The NIEC also assists the CCOE in the development of new funding mechanisms for First Nations Education that support First Nations’ development of a holistic, culturally responsive, high-quality education for First Nations Students for joint collaboration.

Chiefs Committee on Education

The mandate of the CCOE is to provide political direction, advice and recommendations on education matters affecting First Nations to the National Chief and the AFN Executive Committee, and the AFN Languages and Learning Sector. While a national body, the CCOE will pass recommendations through a regional lens.

Documents The latest resources on this topic.

View All 35 Documentsarrow_forward
These are our latest reports, resolutions and other documents on the subject of Education. To see more documents on this topic, and all other public AFN documents, visit the Document Library.

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